courtesy of The New York Public Library
O you tender ones, step now and then
into the breath that takes no heed of you:
it will part as it brushes your cheeks
and then tremble behind you, united again.
O you who are blissful, you who are whole,
you who seem the beginnings of hearts.
Bows for arrows and arrows’ aim, through tears
your smile will glow more eternal.
Don’t be afraid to suffer- take your heaviness
and give it back to the earth’s own weight;
the mountains are heavy, the oceans are heavy.
Even the trees you planted as children
have long grown too heavy; you couldn’t bear them.
But the breezes . . . and the spaces . . .
— Rainer Maria Rilke from Sonnets to Orpheus
In the darkness of change and loss, the shadow of what we consciously envision in the light of day, lies the void that sources our suffering and liberation. When forces beyond our control overturn every aspect of our life, when what formerly held grounded security becomes flooded and dissolved in unconscious waves, we arrive in the moment. In the morning waking up with a heart broken in the pang of death, grieving what has been sacrificed in the arising change, there remains the crisp scent of morning air tingling the skin with the sound of multitudinous birdsong heralding the dawn. Some fall free fall into literal death, some resist and deny in delusion and addiction, while some fully aware of the suffering suffocating this world step bravely forward into the chaos with a heart open though overwhelmed by pain. In the cavernous shifting that comes in March 2016 there is a necessary letting go. In the release, in the ceaseless change of river currents, looms Saraswati riding her swan of the essential, communing with her peacock who devours venomous serpents and transmutes the poison into wisdom and art.
The Total Solar Eclipse in Pisces on March 8 has been deeply felt this past couple weeks, and as it arrives we will begin to sense its meaning that will reverberate far into the future. Eclipses vary in intensity, normally happening four times a year, every six months, and though they are always more powerful than the regular New Moon or Full Moon, some are more potent than others. This Pisces Solar Eclipse is of epic proportion, and the change that arises in its shadow can not be resisted. The Solar Eclipse is total, less than three degrees away from the South Node of the Moon in Pisces, less than two degrees away from Chiron in Pisces. Jupiter, the ruler of the eclipse, is conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo and is opposite the Solar Eclipse by less than one degree. There is tremendous loss and letting go associated with these aspects, going into the gone beyond of the Heart Sutra, and yet if we enter fully into this darkness there is a realignment of personal truth and vision to be uncovered.
This Total Solar Eclipse is part of the saros series 130, with the last eclipses in the series being 26 February 1998, 16 February 1980, 5 February 1962, and 25 January 1944 (the series originated in the year 1096). If you were alive for these previous Eclipses, it is worth the time to ponder the related events and if there are any links to the current moment. Most importantly, investigate the location of 19 degrees of Pisces in your birth chart to discern the house location as well as the aspects made. Whatever house the Eclipse is located in will be a place of release that creates an opening for a new beginning, and whatever aspects are made (focus on conjunctions, squares, oppositions, but also take in sextile and trines) will bring sweeping change to the associated meaning of the planet or chart calculation impacted.
Michael Maier’s Emblem #14 from the Atalanta Fugiens
Solar Eclipses have been feared for millennia because of our great solar light becoming consumed by darkness. Ancient sky watchers who interpreted celestial phenomenon as omens noted time and time again the tumultuous chaos and change that would erupt in accordance with the blackening of the Sun. As astrologer Bernadette Brady has taught, astrologers across ancient cultures connected dragons with eclipses, viewing the solar or lunar light as becoming consumed by a monstrous serpent. In ancient Babylon, it was Tiamat the sea dragon of chaos who inundated the world with disorder as she turned the Sun black. Marduk, associated with the planet Jupiter in Babylon, helped restore order by severing the great sea serpent, an archetypal theme reiterated innumerably in myths cross-culturally.
Ancient astrologers also attempted to bring greater order by learning how to predict eclipses in order to communicate forewarning, and this is how the lunar nodes were originally discovered. However, just because one can predict an eclipse, and further know how it will impact one’s birth chart, does not bring control and order to the energies that emerge at eclipses. Some may fight against, resist, or attempt to control the confusing drama that dawns with a Total Solar Eclipse, yet even when extremely painful it is necessary to flow with the changes in order to realign with the actual developing reality. The modern hero adventure Harry Potter contained an apt metaphor as Harry, Hermione, and Ron did not slay the dragon, but instead freed the dragon and rode the dragon into their destiny.
The word eclipse is connected to the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun from our perspective on Earth. Eclipses occur when a New Moon or Full Moon falls within range of the South Node or North Node of the Moon, as the nodes are the points of intersection in which the Moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic. The South Node of the Moon marks the descending arc of the Moon across the ecliptic, and as a result is associated with past karma, the unconscious, and release, whereas the North Node of the Moon marks the ascending arc of the Moon across the ecliptic and symbolizes an arising point of conscious intake and evolution. In a Total Solar Eclipse, the Moon crosses between our Earth and the Sun by zodiac degree and aligned with one of it’s own nodes, magically from our perspective appears as the same size as the Sun and blackens all light. In keeping with the dragon symbolism of eclipses, the ascending North Node of the Moon became associated with the Head of the Dragon in astrology, while the descending South Node of the Moon became associated with the Tail of the Dragon.
Total Solar Eclipses are essentially the most powerful possible New Moons, yet there is clearly a significant difference between whether the Eclipse is aligned with the South Node of the Moon or the North Node of the Moon. This Pisces Solar Eclipse is aligned with the South Node of the Moon, making its impact even more confusing in terms of making important decisions and holding previous plans together. Solar Eclipses still carry the intention setting of the traditional New Moon, but a potent one like this Pisces Solar Eclipse has a strong pull toward clearing out the past in order to make space for the new. With Chiron and Ceres also conjoining the Solar Eclipse, it is likely something we had been securely holding that now needs to be released.
The lunar nodes and their symbolism as being the head and tail of a dragon are karmic significators in astrology, as what is consumed at the head is released at the tail, and what is carried in the tail fuels the desire of the head. The Pisces Solar Eclipse being at the Tail of the Dragon magnetizes a release of built up energy, yet there is also a karmic element of doing so with compassion, giving rather than taking. If the changes arising now feel hurtful and wounding, it is vital to compassionately nurture yourself and transmute the pain through selfless purification rather than egoic greed or anger. With Ceres and Chiron connected to this Pisces Solar Eclipse, there is likely a huge, ancient wound of the psyche being triggered that could lead to unhealthy self destruction if not handled with care and love.
Though the South Node of the Moon in Pisces is linked to this Solar Eclipse, the North Node of the Moon is also activated because this Total Solar Eclipse is in the home of Jupiter, and Jupiter is tightly opposite the eclipse and conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo. This brings Jupiter’s focus on stabilizing vision to the Dragon’s Head of the Solar Eclipse, a point of inrushing gain and desire in the material realm that can feel amplified and stormy. In Evolutionary Astrology, Jupiter conjoining the North Node of the Moon at this eclipse also signifies new choices to make on our path leading into the future unknown. With Ceres, Chiron, and the Solar Eclipse in opposition to Jupiter, however, there is a wound that needs nurturing and it may be difficult to have faith and believe we can receive the help and healing we need. This Solar Eclipse is almost exactly opposite the Virgo Solar Eclipse on September 13, 2015 that was aligned with the North Node of the Moon at the beginning of Libra. Although not a total Solar Eclipse, since this September 2015 Eclipse was aligned with the North Node of the Moon you may find that elements of the desires you were pursuing forward at that time now need to be let go, as well as that the issues arising in September 2015 now shift directions or deepen in meaning.
from Robert Fludd’s Ultriusque Cosmi (1617)
Since Jupiter is conjoining the North Node of the Moon and is also the traditional ruler of the Solar Eclipse, it is significant that Jupiter is in the home of Mercury and that transiting Mercury is conjoining Neptune in Pisces, the modern ruler of Pisces and this Solar Eclipse. Mercury also being in Pisces while conjoining Neptune means that there is a throbbing oceanic wave of unconscious forces and extrasensory perception contained in this Total Solar Eclipse. This can go along with a blissful plunge into the deep of the void, where there is blurry fogginess more so than clarity. While the square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces has been ongoing these past several months, the Solar Eclipse tips the scales in favor of Neptune as the Sun in Pisces is in square to Saturn and Mercury is applying to a conjunction with Neptune. It may seem as if everything is dissolving, but it is also worth realizing if you can that this is only one point of a process that will be bringing far greater change than what is happening now. Mercury in Pisces is attuned to inner Soul and the symbolic poetry of life, and so flowing into the shifting occurring now is favored more so than resisting the currents.
The Pisces Solar Eclipse also marks the entry of Mars into Sagittarius, where it will station retrograde a month from now. Mercury in Pisces is separating from a square to Mars in Sagittarius at this Solar Eclipse, and though wide in orb the tension of its aspect is still in effect. While Mars in Sagittarius may want to lustfully rush forward in self-centered vision, there are far deeper realizations signified by Mercury and Neptune in Pisces that will be needed to take into account. As a result there is likely to be a lot of confusion centered around this Total Solar Eclipse, as the changes that seem to be overwhelming now most likely are not even the changes that are actually on the way and only one shift amongst a series of unexpected shifts. If there is a goal or target you desire to focus on going forward, it will be necessary to remain open to the need to make adjustments to additional changes that will be on the way as Mars shifts into retrograde. As Pisces is the home of Jupiter and the exaltation of Venus, the best we can do at this Solar Eclipse is to attune to our inner feelings and be open to the unknown.
Kazimir Malevich (1915) Black Square
Saturn, the giant ringed planet of structure and boundaries, death and transcendence, is occupying a pivotal place as it is in square to the Pisces Solar Eclipse, in square to Jupiter in Virgo, in square to the lunar nodes, and in trine to Uranus in Aries. This placement of Saturn significantly ramps up the karmic significance of this Solar Eclipse and the symbolism that whatever we need to let go of and pass away as the Sun turns black will become fecund fuel for our future. The last quarter square between Saturn and Jupiter will be building in intensity in the liminal space between this Pisces Solar Eclipse and the Libra Lunar Eclipse coming on March 23, as Saturn and Jupiter will reach their exact square on the same day as the Lunar Eclipse. This is the second of three initiations into the last quarter square between Saturn and Jupiter, the first having occurred at the beginning of August 2015 in alignment with the Venus retrograde. The last quarter square brings about a crisis, and as it is occurring between Jupiter and Saturn it is about the very meaning we bring to our lives and discover about ourselves. Dane Rudhyar called the last quarter square a “crisis in consciousness” because it forces a clearing out of beliefs that no longer serve us in order to bring about reorientation of meaning. The third and final exact square between Saturn and Jupiter will be in May of 2016, and so there are more changes to come and it will be at least until then that we will be able to gain clarity for the coinciding shifts.
Since Saturn is in square to the lunar nodes and in trine to Uranus in Aries, there can be a sense of standing at a crossroads while receiving intimations of a liberated future path. The Pisces Total Solar Eclipse is fully capable of overwhelming the dogmatic vision that can be linked to Saturn in Sagittarius, creating space for an entirely new way of approaching our life and trajectory going forward. The shadow side of these aspects is on the side of Sagittarius crusaders and ideologues who will react defensively and narcissistically in the face of contention and change, provoking conflict over contesting beliefs. The mix of hard aspects between Saturn with Jupiter, Neptune, and the Solar Eclipse in combination with the trine to Uranus in Aries can feel incredibly disruptive, yet can also force us to make the necessary change now that helps us to reorient most effectively to the shifting tides of our reality.
Profoundly, while Saturn is in trine to Uranus, Jupiter in Virgo is moving retrograde toward a trine with Pluto in Capricorn. This means that the Pisces Solar Eclipse also connects to the massive Uranus and Pluto square that has been dominating astrology for the past several years and changing the underlying structures of our lives. Furthermore, the Pisces Solar Eclipse, as well as Chiron and Ceres in Pisces, are all in sextile to Pluto in Capricorn. For those who are suffering with the changes arising now, the harmonious aspects to both Pluto and Uranus present at this Eclipse signifies that things are beginning to change in ways that we cannot control and do not fully understand, but in the end will connect us to a more authentic, individuated, and liberated path.
from Robert Fludd’s Ultriusque Cosmi (1617)
Chiron and Ceres are not taken into account by many in astrology, but both are intimately linked to this Total Solar Eclipse. The myths of both Chiron and Ceres time and time again reveal themselves to be resonant with the impact made by the astrological Chiron and Ceres, and this again seems to be the case at this Total Solar Eclipse. Both Chiron and Ceres had to make sacrifices neither felt prepared for, and yet by opening to the release they each birthed monumental change. In the story of Chiron, it is his willing sacrifice that leads to the liberation of Prometheus. In the story of Ceres, it is her loss of Persephone as her constant companion that leads to Persephone assuming her vital role as Queen of the Underworld.
While outrage may overcome us with the changes occurring at this eclipse, and though we may feel we deserve to be angry, it will be most important to regenerate ourselves as Ceres did in river currents so we can regain our capacity to be productive and effect change in our surroundings. Ceres is an activator between the personal planets of Mars, Venus, and Mercury with the large gaseous planets of expansion and contraction, Jupiter and Saturn. Ceres conjoining the Pisces Solar Eclipse thus brings up the importance of nurturing all of the wild passions and perceptions being stirred up by Mercury, Venus, and Mars. Ceres can signify both abandonment and attachment issues, wounds at our core that can make it difficult to ground and make the choices that will bring opportunities for greater happiness, as well as have the capacity to receive the love and care being offered. As the realm of Jupiter and Saturn is entering into the crisis of their last quarter square, Ceres signifies the visceral importance of nurturing our body, mind, and desires.
Chiron is an activator from the realm of Jupiter and Saturn to the far beyond of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, and so the Pisces Solar Eclipse will include experiences that propel us into the transpersonal realm, creating the need to return to the mundane world while integrating our far out realizations. Chiron’s story in myth begins with abandonment and rejection, as the half human, half horse Chiron was seen as an abomination by his divine parents and left to raise himself in mountainous caves. For many in the collective at this Total Solar Eclipse, issues of being rejected, of not being wanted, of not feeling seen or respected for our inherent value and intelligence could come up. Chiron teaches the lesson of resiliently following our path no matter how unorthodox it may seem to others in the materialistic mainstream of society. Chiron not only learned from the wisdom of the stars shining above and the green growth of nature below, but gave his teachings to others and nurtured the unique, undervalued gifts of his students. This lesson of the Solar Eclipse can be found in the dialogue of the film Brother Sun Sister Moon about Saint Francis, when Clare calls out to Francis: “I am not seeking to be understood, I want to understand! I am not asking to be loved, I want to love!”
9 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith
Pisces II Decan
The second face of Pisces holds this Total Solar Eclipse, a decan associated with the 9 of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image we see a rather smug and opulent man seemingly gloating in front of his carefully exhibited nine golden cups. The 9 of Cups is often associated with wish fulfillment, enjoying pleasure, luxury, and satisfaction, and getting what we think we want. Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Net” to the Pisces second decan, a face in which “the central conflict is how to reconcile one’s understanding of the true nature of reality with the world-as-it-is,” a “phase in which we are challenged to reconcile beliefs, ideals and the way things are” (p. 251). Since Mercury is conjoining Neptune at the Solar Eclipse, the perception into underlying reality signified by their union is fitting for the meaning Coppock gave to the second decan of Pisces, as the Solar Eclipse will call us to integrate this depth of awareness into our daily life.
Jupiter rules the second face of Pisces, notable at this eclipse as Jupiter is receiving the eclipse through an opposition, is conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo, and is square to Saturn in Sagittarius. Coppock illuminated in 36 Faces that the crux of this decan is that fulfillment can come from harmonizing one’s inner perceptions with one’s outer life, yet torment and grief will overcome those unable to harmonize their outer and inner worlds. In the last quarter square between Jupiter and Saturn, Jupiter is in the superior position and receiving the karmic lessons of Saturn. Jupiter’s potent placement at the Solar Eclipse reveals that to access the fortune contained in the blackening of the Sun, we must flow like water in line with the cosmos above and the soul of the material world in the moment. Attuning to where we are inwardly directed in the now, we can act with integrity and bridge our inner feelings and realizations with our external actions.
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.
Rilke, Rainer Maria. (2004). Sonnets to Orpheus. Translated by Edward Snow. North Point Press.